CESSNA F406 CARAVAN II
The Reims-Cessna F406 Caravan II (or Cessna F406) is a turboprop twin-engine utility aircraft manufactured and designed through a collaboration between aircraft manufacturers Reims Aviation (France) and the Cessna Aircraft Company (USA). The F406 was manufactured between 1983 and 2013, when Reims Aviation filed for bankruptcy.
Measuring 39 ft (11.89 m) long, the Cessna F406 is aimed at passenger and small cargo transport. For extra cargo capacity, a cargo pod can be attached to its belly. The aircraft is also widely used in civilian and military surveillance. A maritime surveillance version of the aircraft, the Surmar, comes equipped with extra gear such as the Thales communications COMINT system and the Bendix (or today, the Telephonics) RDR-1500 radar.
A development of the piston propeller 404, the Cessna F406 can be used as a cargo aircraft, or provide 10-14 seats and transport a small amount of cargo. Although the plane’s two engines make the F406 more costly to operate than its single engine counterpart, the 208 Caravan I, they also provide durability and power.
The Cessna F406 is a highly adaptable aircraft, and one capable of handling rough ground. It has proven popular with both civilian and military buyers. With good range and payload capacity, it can take a variety of roles. The aircraft was designed with developing nations in mind, and it is valued in these countries for its dependability, versatility and rough-field capabilities.
After Reims Aviation entered receivership in 2013, manufacture of the Cessna F406 ceased, but there has been recent interest in both China and USA in resurrecting this adaptable twin-engine aircraft (see Past and Present).
PAST AND PRESENT
Early in its design, the Reims-Cessna F406 Caravan II was simply the Cessna C406 Caravan II; A twin-engine aircraft designed to complement Cessna’s single-engine C208 Caravan I. However, as the design evolved, the F406’s resemblance to the C208 Caravan I diminished and it became increasingly unique. Shortly after design was finalized, rights to manufacture the 406 were sold to Reims Aviation, and the C406 (a Cessna designation) became the F406 (Reims).
The Cessna 406 made its maiden flight on September 22, 1983. The plane has room for up to 14 passengers, and the maximum rated payload capacity is over 4,000 pounds (1814.369 kg). These features, combined with its low cost (in relative terms), quickly made the F406 popular with regional carriers across Africa and Asia.
The Cessna F406 is also popular within the European Union (EU), largely because unlike its single-engine rivals, the Cessna F406 complies with instrument-only commercial flight restrictions imposed by EU. The F406 has also been employed by French and Korean military forces, and is a popular maritime patrol aircraft, used in this role by French, British and Greek coastguard services.
Production of the F406 remained with Reims Aviation until the company filed for bankruptcy in 2013. In 2014, French manufacturer ASI began a joint venture with the Aviation Industry Corporation of China to resume production of the F406. ASI has also purchased the right to manufacture spare parts for the Cessna Reims aircraft.
French manufacturer Reims Aviation Industries enjoyed a long and productive partnership with Kansas-based Cessna between 1962 and the company’s bankruptcy in 2013. Eight Cessna models appeared under the Reims brand, and many were unique variants within one of Cessna’s model ranges. The F406 was the final project of the American and French collaborators, and was still in production when Reims closed its doors.
Reims Aviation, founded in 1946, was an aircraft manufacturer located in Reims, a small city northeast of Paris. Notable aircraft included the Broussard MH.1521, the Super Broussard MH.260 and a number of planes built in collaboration with Cessna. Owned by GECI Aviation, the company filed for bankruptcy in 2013.
The Cessna Aircraft Company is a general aviation manufacturer that has been based in Kansas since its founding in 1927. Cessna is famed for its small-size piston-powered aircraft, as well as private jet and business jet manufacture. Cessna’s parent-company is the global aerospace, security, defence and technology conglomerate Textron.
BUYING A CESSNA F406
Over the 30 years in which Reims and Cessna manufactured the F406, 99 aircraft were produced. Though the plane has been discontinued, there are strong indications that both the aircraft itself and spare parts may be manufactured again (see above). At the time of this article’s publication, globalplanesearch.com, .asslpk.com, and controller.com all had Cessna F406s listed for sale. Buyers of the F406 can expect to pay between $2,500,000 and $4,250,000.00 US.
THREE INTERESTING FACTS
The Telegraph of London reports that a Cessna F406 was one of the “fleet of secret planes” purchased by the London Metropolitan Police Force for top secret surveillance operations in and around the British capital.
In Newbury Honor-winning children’s novel Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen, 13-year old hero Brian, is traveling from New York to Canada in a Cessna 406 when the pilot suffers heart failure and Gary takes charge of the aircraft.
Cessna traces its history back to 1911, when founder Clyde Cessna, a Kansas farmer, built an aircraft out of wood and fabric, and flew in it to the Rocky Mountains. This made him the first person to fly an aircraft between the Mississippi River and the Rockies. The F406 continues a tradition embedded in Cessna’s DNA of producing small, hardy aircraft capable of handling rough land.
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829 KM/H / 515 MPH
7223 KM / 4488 Miles
8.1m³ - 286ft³